REVIEW: Supergirl, S5E2 – Stranger Beside Me

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Supergirl wastes no time exploring the dark side of technology in “Stranger Beside Me,” thanks to Lena’s (Katie McGrath) latest experiment to supposedly improve humanity. Meanwhile, Kara (Melissa), J’onn (David Harewood), and the rest of the cast have their new environments and relationships tested.

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Where’d the memories go?

The newest relationship at the center of this week’s Supergirl is J’onn and his previously unknown brother, Ma’alefa’ak (whom we will henceforth refer to as Malefic). After last episode’s confrontation, J’onn is left in pain from a Martian psychic attack, and wants to learn who the strange relative really is. Kelly (Azie Tesfai) takes him under her wing with the Granny Goodness-style Obsidian Tech that helps him reconstruct his memories. While he discovers that his brother betrayed the Green Martians and was exiled to the Phantom Zone, he also learn someone wiped his memory. Malefic drove the point home with the ominous phrase, “You’re still in the dark, brother.” Could the missing information exonerate his brother a little? Or is the curse that brings pain to siblings who turn against each even more sinister than either imagined?

Malefic’s quest for vengeance ends up dovetailing with Alex’s (Chyler Leigh) fledgling romance in what is perhaps the most heartwarming part of “Stranger Beside Me.” After a breakfast mishap in which Alex almost kills Kelly via blueberry pancakes, the DEO agent becomes incredibly insecure about her lack of knowledge and the depth of her feelings. Naturally, both are put to the test that very same Supergirl episode when Malefic shape shifts into Kelly to grill Alex for information. At the touch of a hand, Alex realizes this isn’t her Kelly. Even more romantic, Alex knows which Kelly to take down because hers would never be selfish enough to suggest shooting the other.

The other romance put to something of a test was Brainy (Jesse Rath) and Nia’s (Nicole Maines), as the former was going a bit overboard expressing his affections. His breakfast was a success, which led to 36 bento boxes and a bunch of pizza orders, much to Nia’s chagrin. Despite her fumbled attempt at toning him down, he still surprises her with Shakespearean sonnets and way too many candles. She does find him adorable still, but time will tell if they differences pull them apart… or if the present changing the future does. (Or maybe nothing does! I love them together, but “Stranger Beside Me” was the first time I was a little concerned.)

Kara helped with the other story lines throughout “Stranger Beside Me,” but her main problem was dealing with new boss Andrea (Julie Gonzalo). Andrea is a nightmare, but to be fair, Kara doesn’t have much time to do her job with all her superhero-ing around. Perhaps she would have made time if she hadn’t been put on fashion blog detail, but we’ll never know because newcomer William Day – a mass of contradictions thus far – wrote it for her and then ratted her out. He conducts secret business, has Kara tailed, and then goes to a soup kitchen. Who is this man? Though Kara stands her ground and steps up her game at the end, it winds up seeming like James (Mehcad Brooks) had the right idea of quitting and somehow going into politics.

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Don’t mess with Rojas.

Someone with a very wrong idea was our girl Lena, whose plan to better humanity involved stealing Andrea’s proprietary contacts in order to reprogram people to be nicer and less violent. Once again, her intentions may be good – not to mention colored by her painful past – but her methods border on Frankenstein’s. Her choice of first human subject is none other than Eve, who tries to placate her captor by not making noise when Andrea shows up to confront Lena. All she gets for her scheming is being transformed into a Stepford Wife version of herself, though, because Lena decides her brain will be good enough in lieu of the contacts.

While “Stranger Beside Me” wasn’t as emotional as last week’s, it did move I have no love lost for Eve, so it’s not like she doesn’t a little comeuppance, but it’s upsetting to think of what might happened if her preliminary tests succeed. Hopefully Kara will keep her promise to check in on her best friend, so that she can pull her back from the edge before it’s too late.

Supergirl airs Sundays at 9/8c on the CW.